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September 10, 1931 


Dr. W. T. Whitsett Relates the History of a Family 
of American Lutheran Preachers 

This romantic story, which is true in every particular, 
begins in the year 1800 in the sovereign principality of 
Hohenzollern-Hechingen in the southern part of Germany, 
near the River Danube, and not so far from the ancient 
town of Augsburg, made famous by the Augsburg Confes- 
sion of 1530. Here lived in 1800 a prominent Jewish 
family to whom a son was born September 27, 1800. The 
boy was named John Hermann Bernheim and as he grew 
up he was given the very best educational advantages. 
He was especially gifted in language and literature. 

The parents being devout Jews, it was their ambition 
that their son should be a Jewish rabbi, and the son en- 
tered upon his religious studies with this in view. His 
progress was rapid. He dreamed that some day he should 
become famous for his scholarship and piety like the great 
Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel. He put his best efforts 
upon the study of the Old Testament, and upon the 
Talmud, that great storehouse of rabbinical lore that was 
accumulated during the first centuries of the Christian 
era and later became the prime object of Jewish literary 
effort. The history ol the Jews was especially fascinating 
to him, and he delved deeply into their beginnings back 
near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and in the dark 
deserts of Arabia. He followed their story through Old 
Testament times, down to the days when Asia was con- 
quered by Alexander the Great; on through the attempt 
and failure to free Judaea from Roman power, the days 
of the dispersion of the Jews, and down to modern times. 
To him it was a thrilling story, and often he meditated 
upon the Sanhedrin and its ancient power, and the great 
part played by the Jews in the religious development of 
the race of men. Finally he gave his attention to the 
Greek New Testament, and as he saw the life and work 
and teaching of Jesus he became strangely moved. His 
heart and conscience were touched as never before, and 
he became a sincere convert to Christianity. Instead of 
becoming a learned Jew, and a rabbi of that faith, he 
became a sincere and humble follower of Jesus. 

Parents Disowned Him 
The parents were furious and besought him to see the 
error of his way, but like Paul of old he had seen a great 
light upon his way, and firmly refused to turn from the 
truth. They disowned him as their son, and banished 
him forever from their home. Sadly he turned from the 
family fireside, and went out into the world. On his 
journey he stopped one day at a castle, that of a certain 
Count Von der Recke Vollmerstein. The Count was a 
member of the Lutheran church and soon began to in- 
struct him in the doctrines of the Lutheran Church after 
employing him as tutor for his children. Young Bern- 
heim was soon after baptized by the Rev. Karl A. Doering 
at the church in Elberfeld, and later entered the min- 
istry of the Lutheran Church, laboring for some years as 
a missionary to the Jews under direction of the London 
Missionary Society. His work took him to Iserlohm, 
Province of Westphalia, Prussia, where he was married 
to Miss Lizetta Dellman. He remained here five years 
and during this time three children were born into the 
family, one daughter, and two sons, — Gotthardt Dellman 
Bernheim, born November 8, 1827, and Charles Hermann 
Bernheim, born September 4, 1830. In 1832 the family 
emigrated to America and settled in Pennsylvania where 
the father joined the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, and 
entered upon work for the Lutheran Church. He con- 


tinued to work in the states of Pennsylvania and Massa- 
chusetts until his death September 27, 1847. 

The older son, Gotthardt Bernheim, had been sent south 
in 1846 and came under the instruction of the Rev. John 
Bachman, D.D., LL.D., who was pastor of St. John's 
Church, Charleston, S. C, for more than fifty years, and 
also of the Rev. Ernest L. Hazelius, D.D., who for nearly 
forty years was a professor of theology in the Lutheran 
schools of the south. The younger son, Charles Hermann 
Bernheim, also, finally came south to join his brother, and 
after his studies were completed, both spent their lives as 
Lutheran ministers, the most of their work being done in 
the states of North Carolina and South Carolina. Thus, 
the conversion of the prospective young Jewish rabbi to 
Christianity resulted in the giving of three Lutheran min- 
isters to a wide field of service; the father's labors for 
fifteen years being in the north, and the two sons giving 
their long years of service to the Church in this par- 
ticular field of the South. 

The Rev. Charles Hermann Bernheim, who served as 
pastor of Friedens Church, Gibsonville, N. C, from 1868 
to 1874, was first granted license to preach by the South 
Carolina Synod in 1855, and ordained in 1858. At various 
times he labored in Florida and South Carolina, but his 
chief work was at his different pastorates in North 
Carolina. He kept up the family tradition of scholarship, 
and delighted to tell in vivid style the story of God's guid- 
ing hand in the life of his father, his brother and himself. 

Sixty-seven Years a Minister 
Gotthardt Dellmann Bernheim, D.D., who died October 
24, 1916, and was buried from St. Mark's Lutheran 
Church, Charlotte, N. C, was one of the outstanding men 
in the Lutheran Church of the United States. A profound 
scholar, an eloquent minister, and a historian of note, he 
made a deep impress upon his time. He first served for 
three years as assistant pastor at St. John's Church, 
Charleston, S. C, then organized St. Andrew's Church 
and remained as pastor for five years. In 1858 he joined 
the North Carolina Synod and his work in this body is 
witness to his devotion and wise leadership. May 31, 
1858, St. Paul's Church was organized at Wilmington, and 
in January, 1859, St. Mark's Church at Charlotte, under 
his guidance. Sixty-seven years were spent in the duties 
demanded by the ministry of the Lutheran Church which 
he loved so well. Wherever he went he commanded re- 
spect by his genuine ability, and carried forward the work 
entrusted to him by his untiring perseverance. His pen 
was always busy, and his contributions are outstanding 
among Lutheran writers of his time. For years he edited 
a literary magazine known as At Home and Abroad, he 
wrote a history of St. Paul's Church at Wilmington, he 
published "Localities of the Reformation," and other lit- 
erary productions came from his pen. His two most im- 
portant works, however, are the "History of the German 
Settlements of the Carolinas," and his joint work with 
Dr. George H. Cox in the "History of the Synod of North 
Carolina." His visit to Europe in 1876-1877 was largely 
to secure first hand information about early church his- 
tory. The importance of the work of an accurate his- 
torian cannot be over-estimated, along this line alone, to 
speak of no other work; Dr. Bernheim has written his 
name secure in the minds of all intelligent Lutherans. 

This inspiring story seemed worth telling, possessing all 
the elements of romance as it does, and yet being only a 
few pages from the book of actual life: a father and his 
two gifted sons, born of stock Jewish, of "the straightest 
sect," and yet by the hand of mysterious Providence 
brought to large service in the Lutheran Church. 

or 3 8 mi£ 

Digitized by 

the Internet Archive 

in 2014 

Date Due 

Form 335. 45M 8-37. 


N.G 975.6 


v.l nos.1-17